Rock slide near Newport

A Thursday morning rock slide just north of Newport shut down a portion of the southbound lane on Ohio 7.

A few hundred feet of the southbound lane near milepost 39.24 is currently closed and could remain so for up to 45 days while the Ohio Department of Transportation works to stabilize the nearby hillside and repair damage to the roadway, said ODOT District 10 communications manager David Rose.

“There was a larger rock and some mud and some smaller rocks too that fell onto the road there,” he said.

Traffic was maintained throughout the afternoon by ODOT flaggers while a portable light system was obtained. That system was installed and was directing one-lane traffic by Thursday evening, he added.

ODOT filed paperwork Thursday to have the project expedited as an emergency repair project, said Rose.

“We hope to get it done within 30 days or less, but it could be up to 45 days,” he said.

Stabilizing the rock face so that more boulders do not fall will be the first priority, he added.

The slip came on the eve of the Frontier Local school district’s first day of school.

The district is already adjusting busing schedules to account for the closure of the Archers Fork bridge but does not expect the new closure to require much of an adjustment, said district superintendent Bruce Kidder.

“I don’t believe it’s going to slow us down more than five minutes or so. Those lights change pretty quick,” said Kidder, who traveled through the portion of affected road earlier Thursday.

However, the new closure does mean the buses will be contending with two light-controlled single lane roads within approximately half a mile when school starts today, he said.

“Just up river they’re working on a wash away portion of road and they have a light controlling traffic there,” said Kidder.

Bus drivers have already been notified of the closure and will adjust, he said.

Dan Morrison, whose family owns Ohio 7 businesses Riverview Auto Sales and Riverview Auto Parks, said the lane closure did not seem to be having a big effect on traffic Thursday afternoon.

“It may get busier here at rush hour, but it’s not that bad,” said Morrison.

Vehicles in both directions were delayed approximately five minutes, he estimated.

The emergency repair project will not affect any other currently planned ODOT projects, said Rose.